Culture

Culture, Ideas, Religion

Millions of years ago, geological forces ripped the world to pieces. Christopher Columbus changed all that though. When he sailed across the Atlantic, he began a process that knit the world back together ecologically and economically. It meant there would be tomatoes in Italy and coffee in Brazil. The journalist Charles Mann says while the costs and benefits are inseparable, 1493 marked the birth of the world we live in today. Mann is in Utah and he joins us to talk about his book called "1493."

How to Die in Oregon

May 25, 2012

When Peter Richardson's documentary on physician assisted suicide screened at the Sundance Film Festival last year, the New York Times called it one of the most difficult to watch movies of the festival. Richardson followed terminally ill patients deciding when - or if - to end their own lives. He says the film isn't about death and dying as much as it is about life and living. HOW TO DIE IN OREGON is screening in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, so we're rebroadcasting our conversation with Peter Richardson. (Rebroadcast)

Bunch of Amateurs

May 23, 2012

You probably know some amateurs, people driven by a singular passion for whatever, birdwatching, maybe, or home brewing or space elevators. The writer Jack Hitt certainly knows the type. He’s written a book about semi-professional people in the grip of passion, and he argues that they've powered America’s success and innovation. From Benjamin Franklin to a young Bay Area woman trying to splice a fish’s glow-in-the-dark gene into yogurt, Hitt has documented American amateurs, and he joins Doug on Thursday.

Religion for Atheists

May 22, 2012
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/el_ramon/574809150/">Timothy Valentine</a>|<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr

Is any religion true? The popular British philosopher Alain de Botton opens his latest book by declaring this the most boring and unproductive question a person can ask. de Botton is himself a resolute non-believer, but by setting that debate aside, he says we can look at the really good ideas religions offer about how to live and how to arrange society. Wednesday, Alain de Botton joins Doug for an exploration of his "Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion."

Doug talks to Brooke Gladstone, host of NPR's "On the Media." She's written a graphic nonfiction book - a journey through two millennia of journalism. Gladstone says that there's always been a fear that the media are somehow controlling our minds. But rather than being an external force, she argues that the media are mirrors that show us our own reflection. Doug talks to her about "The Influencing Machine," and about what we can do to be savvy media consumers. (Rebroadcast)

<i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/3366563115">Beverly & Pack</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Some political observers say the United States is a global superpower on the wane. They see the rise of China and America's increasing failure to get its way in the world as signs of decline. Robert Kagan, a foreign policy commentator, disagrees. He says the size and influence of America's economy, its unparalleled military might and its global political clout position it to remain the world's predominant power. Kagan joins Doug on Wednesday to discuss America's present and future status. (Rebroadcast)

Friday on RadioWest the historian Will Bagley is with us to talk about his epic quest to chronicle the westward migration of American settlers. Bagley's book tells the story of the Overland Trails that brought more than half a million Americans to the far West of Oregon and California. It's the story of families and fortune hunters and the effect that all of it had the native people who for centuries had already been calling the West home. (Rebroadcast)

Wednesday on RadioWest, we're rebroadcasting our conversation about Maurice Sendak's classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are." The brilliant writer and illustrator died yesterday at the age of 83. His book changed children's literature when it was first published in 1963. Like most good art, it was seen as subversive and outrageous. We'll talk about translating it into a movie - but mostly, our fond memories of Max and his extraordinary adventure. (Rebroadcast)

Vibrator Rx

May 7, 2012
From New York's "The Syracuse Herald," 1919

In 1978, technology historian Rachel Maines was researching needlework when she came across ads for vibrators in 19th century magazines. They were sold as medical treatment for women with "hysteria." Symptoms were depression, irritability, confusion and more. Maines' research is the basis of a play on stage in Salt Lake and a Hollywood film that opens here next month. Tuesday, we'll talk to Maines about the history of the vibrator and what it can still tell us about women's roles in society.

God's Jury

May 3, 2012
Edward Sorel's illustration from the cover of God's Jury

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But not everybody really knows what it is, either. The writer Cullen Murphy has written a book about the Catholic Church's 700-year persecution of its enemies, both real and imagined. And he says the "inquisitorial impulse" lives on - in America's massive surveillance and routine use of torture in the wake of 9/11, for example. Murphy joins Doug on Friday to remind us the Inquisition isn't something safely relegated to the past (Rebroadcast)

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